Winter is here, and it’s the time of the year where we all spend more time inside really enjoying the warmth and shelter that our home gives us. While the ground turns slippery, the trees turn white, and the ski resorts rejoice, some families have trouble keeping up with the higher cost of heating their home. While it is inevitable that heating costs will increase during the winter, there are a few simple tricks that you can do to help reduce your heating bills during these cold months.
1. Do not heat any unnecessary rooms. Close and seal heat registers and air returns. Be sure to whether-strip doors to these less-heated areas.
2. Adjust the furnace thermostat (internally) for the longest (and therefore fewest) cycles. Simply pop off the cover and look inside to set. This efficiency boost could save 15%.
3. Set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable. Each degree you lower your thermostat can cut your heating costs between one and three percent. A common strategy is to lower thermostat settings to 68 degrees. The lower you set it, the more you'll save.
4. Turn your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees during your sleeping hours or while you’re away, to save even more on your heating bill. Use a programmable thermostat with your furnace to adjust the setting while you sleep or no one is home. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month, or as needed.
5. Window heat loss equals 1/3 of your energy bill so close shades and drapes. Use rope caulk in every crack & opening. If possible, use Visqueen plastic over the outside of each window and/or use shrink plastic on the inside. Try clear bubble plastic packaging placed between the storm window and inside the main glass window (to insulate).
6. Use storm or thermal windows for extra savings. The layer of air between the windows acts as insulation and helps keep the heat inside where you want it.
7. Let in the heat from the sunshine by opening up those draperies and shades in winter. If you're worried about fading the furniture - use a slipcover.
8. In colder areas it makes sense to move furniture away from any exterior walls. Putting some space between you and the cold walls makes the house seem warmer and leaving room for the air to move around actually makes it warmer.
9. When you're away from home for an extended time, turn the heat down to the low 40s (so pipes won’t freeze) and turn off the hot water heater. Don't do this for short term absences. It can take more energy to heat up the cold water than you saved.
10. Try to cut down on the use of kitchen and bathroom fans in winter. These fans cool the air and waste household heat.
11. Check with your local electric company to find out if they have times during the day when the rates are lower. Using the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and other energy demanding appliances during these times may lead to big savings. Be careful. Some plans may make you pay a premium price for using electric during peak hours and you'll need to make sure to do wash and other chores during the off hours.
12. Check the ducts. To ensure that as much warm air as possible is delivered through your central system, check the ductwork and wrap any leaks with duct mastic. Distribution losses (what's lost while air is transported from your furnace through ductwork to the vents) often amounts to 30%. So, sealing ductwork could increase efficiency and the warm air you receive considerably ... keeping you warmer and making your furnace work less.